Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How Atlanta's Carmageddon/Snowpocalypse Impacted Us

First of all, we are all home safe and sound and have been since last night around 6:20 p.m. The day began totally normal, as in Austin drove in to work and me and Beckett  had our morning at home and then left the house around 10:30 a.m., swung by the drycleaners, and then went to the 11 a.m. class at the gym. At noon when my class ended I checked my phone and saw that my mother-in-law had texted saying it was snowing in Birmingham - weird! I got Beckett at 12 p.m. and saw out the window at the gym that it was snowing in Atlanta - brrr! I decided to skip our Walgreen's errand and go straight home. Beckett had lunch then went down for a nap, and then I started baking cupcakes for an upcoming playdate. Me and my friend Sharon started texting as her and her 2-month-old were planning to come visit us at 3 p.m. after Beckett's nap. She asked if Austin was getting off work early due to the snow and I had no idea so I called him at 1:15 p.m. He was in great spirits, had just had lunch with a colleague and was in his car leaving work as they had gotten dismissed.

Austin's office is 19 miles/6 exits from the house and his commute typically takes anywhere between 30 - 45 minutes up 400N. We figured he'd be home by 2 p.m., maybe even 2:30 p.m. at the latest. But it took him 2 hours to get to 400N (this is normally a 5-minute drive, maybe). He was like 'Kel, I have water, I have food, I have my long coat and my ski shell, I have my gloves, and I have audio books. I'm staying on the highway and I will get home, it's just going to take a while.' It did. We talked on and off all day, I texted with his mom, my mom, my neighbors and friends. Me and Beckett turned on Channel 11 which covered the snow storm all day.

He ended up getting home at 6:20 p.m., so 19 miles in a little over 5 hours, 4.5 hours longer than normal. I don't know how he did it. I'm just not that patient. I would have pulled off. I would have freaked out. But he just patiently and persistently steadied the course and I'm so proud of him. Even when he got to our exit he plugged on past it as there is a big 'up' hill to get to our house, so he figured if he took the next exit he could go down the hill vs. up it. Great idea, but the roads were already icing at this point and the exit was blocked by cars who all spun out trying to get up a small hill. So he cut off, went through an office park, and managed to get to our street and go up the hill and get home! Seeing him pull in was wonderful!

While I was like Austin, this is CRAZY, 5 hours??!!, he ended up being one of the lucky ones as many of our friends were stranded. I reached out to my mom's group and found that lots of mommies and daddies couldn't get home and were staying overnight in hotel lobbies, their cars, Home Depot, etc. And this was going on in Birmingham, too, friends stranded at CVSs, Publix, their offices, having to abandon their cars due to no more gas and no gas available for purchase, walking to get their kids at daycare, friends whose kids had to spend the night at daycare - my father-in-law even walked home from work! Many friends were also trapped in their work parking decks, unable to leave if they wanted to. We were glued to the TV like OMG what can we do?! This is crazy, we are so fortunate, wow...

We got Beckett to bed around 7:30 p.m. then went back to the news and phones to check in on family and friends. Around 9:45 p.m. Austin was talking to his Dad and I got a text from one of my AutoTrader.com co-workers and friends Jenn. She was on 400N at our exit and they had closed 400! A tractor trailer had jackknifed blocking the road and it wasn't safe - she couldn't make it home but COULD make it to our house so we told her to come on over! Poor thing had been in the car since 3:30 p.m., hadn't stopped even to use the bathroom as she just sat and sat to get 15 miles in 7 hours. We were so glad she reached out and that we were able to help just by being home and having water, wine, food and a guest room! While the circumstances were beyond unfortunate we enjoyed catching up with her and having her stay over. She was able to get home safely today just after lunch - we are so happy for her!

So that's our story. Me and Beckett were here, home and safe. Austin made it home after traveling 19 miles in 5 hours inching up 400N. And we were able to be there for Jenn -  it was the least we could do - so glad we were here and so glad she called and was able to get here safely. 

What a nightmare. I am just in disbelief about this whole thing. It was such a normal day until it wasn't, you know? It's shocking and scary and I truly can't describe how fortunate I feel to know, right now, that all of my loved ones are safe and warm. I hope the same can be said for all in Alabama and Georgia ASAP.

I realize this is somewhat of a weird post but I had to get this all out here just to like read it again and be like 'this happened.' Don't get me wrong - we've had bad snow situations before (like in January 2011 when we flew in from Arizona/Auburn's National Championship Game to find that Atlanta was shut down and we had to drive from the airport to home which took 2 hours) - now that pales in comparison to this storm.

K - i'm out. Hope you're all safe and seriously considering putting together a small emergency car kit (if you don't have one already) - I know I am! And in case you're wondering, the poodles LOVE the snow, especially Reuben! (no, I'm not being sarcastic - it's adorable seeing them play out there!)

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